Fishing the Bassmaster Elite Series is the dream job, no doubt. But when the season wraps up, I’m always excited to head back home to Lake of the Woods. Here, I have some of the best fishing and hunting in the world just outside my back door.
Truthfully, Kenora, Ontario, is not the most convenient place to live for someone who wants to fish tournaments for living. We are about two hours north of the Minnesota border. Lacrosse, Wis., is the closest venue where I’ve fished a professional tournament, and even that is a nine-hour drive. I’m a two-day drive from most of the places that we visit on the Elite Series and about a 30-hour drive from the St. John’s River in Florida where we’ll start the 2022 season.
The truth is, you couldn’t pay me to live anywhere else. The reason that I was able to pursue a career in the fishing industry is because I grew up always having access to water, and I fished a lot.
Our family had a cabin on the lake where we spent our summers. Then through high school and college, I worked as a fishing guide at resorts around the lake while fishing as many bass tournaments as I could. When I’m home, I still get outside every chance I get — particularly throughout the fall.
I fished team tournaments most weekends through September and October. The fishing is excellent, the tournaments are fun and they are a great way to stay sharp. There are a lot of good anglers in my part of the world, so the competition is top notch.
I spent a lot of time learning more about my electronics, and I fished for a variety of species other than bass. We had nice weather late into October, and after the tournaments ended, I spent my time chasing musky, pike, crappie and walleye.
I do quite a bit of outdoor writing and photography to keep a little flow going on the side, so I’m always out there looking to get some photos. Also, I’m constantly trying new baits and techniques for all of these different species. This helps my versatility and my overall game.
While our summers are beautiful, we do get a real winter. Four feet of snow, months of negative temperatures, snow on the ground for over five months type of winter. We’ve had snow on the ground for a couple of weeks now, but the temperatures have remained relatively warm.
I’ve been deer hunting quite a bit and have a moose hunting trip planned with some friends in December. After that, I’ll do quite a bit of ice fishing over the holidays. We’ll have great fishing for walleye, crappie and lake trout. I’ll get home for a little stretch later in March right at the end of the ice season — between our Santee Cooper and Chickamauga events — and we’ll catch some giant pike and walleye.
In addition to all of the outdoor activities, I’ve been putting in an hour or two every day working in my shop. Mostly I've been organizing my fishing gear and starting to get ready for the new season. I’ll have a new Lund 2075 Pro-V Bass boat coming in soon and will get to work on getting that all rigged up with X2 Batteries, Minn Kota, Humminbird and T-H Marine equipment.
While it’s the offseason, it’s still a busy time of year doing a lot of the things that I love to do!.